Walker Walks the Line with ‘Bobblehead’ – and Gets Season 2!

Third episodes of new television shows are often the times when the narrative takes off in a slightly different direction, which is a bit of what happened with last week’s episode of the new Walker on the CW.  I enjoyed the episode – and there were quite a few people on my timeline who liked it even better than the first two – but there were also some parts that didn’t work quite as well for me. Part of that is because I was so impressed in the first two episodes with how realistically the show portrayed the Walker family’s grief over Emily’s death, making that the centerpiece of the family drama in the show. This episode still touched on that theme, but also took the show in a slightly different direction and introduced a new guest character.

Leading up to the episode, the network did a great job with promotion once again – including celebrating the good news that the show has already been renewed for Season 2! That’s an impressive accomplishment after only two episodes have aired, and a testament to the fan base that these actors bring with them, including many from my ‘home’ fandom, Supernatural.  The cast all tweeted their celebration, and so did many of Padalecki’s former Supernatural castmates. It felt good for the still-new Walker fandom to already have something to celebrate!

On Thursday, Jeff Pierre took over the Walker Instagram for the day, which made for more fun and some cameos from the other actors. Jeff Pierre is already a fan favorite thanks to his sense of humor and easy way of interacting with fans – and he and many of the show’s cast are clearly comfortable with social media.

Jared Padalecki live tweeted the East coast airing of the episode, so I watched and did a little tweeting and also enjoyed Jared’s commentary, some of which was cheeky and hilarious. Live tweeting used to happen every now and then for Supernatural, but it’s been a long time, so it felt really good to know that he was enjoying the episode right along with us. The last year of SPN fandom was contentious to say the least, and it felt especially good to feel like we were all just there to have fun together. I really hope that atmosphere sticks around – not that I won’t critique the show, because that’s what episode reviews do, but make no mistake, I have always enjoyed the shows I review. Otherwise I wouldn’t be watching!

So, Episode 3.

There was quite a bit to enjoy about that new character they introduced — Hoyt (Matt Barr), who high kicks his way back into the Walkers’ lives after a lengthy absence. We first meet him bare chested in short shorts and chaps, covered in sweat and glitter and dancing in a strip club. I am trying mightily not to compare Walker to the show that preceded it in this time slot on the CW, my all time favorite Supernatural, but Jared Padalecki just being in both keeps tying them together in my mind. So I laughed out loud when we got a male exotic dancer because yes, there are a fair number of Supernatural fans watching, and yes, some of us would have appreciated a similar scene at some point in that show’s 15 years. Sam and Dean go undercover at strip clubs on the regular in fanfic, why not in canon?

Anyway, points for that, Walker. Not what we expected from Walker’s best friend from childhood, and I like being surprised.

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I continue to enjoy the fact that I don’t enjoy all the characters in this show, at least not all the time. Give me shades of gray instead of black and white, and characters complicated enough to sometimes inspire empathy and sometimes annoyance, and I’ll be happy. Hoyt was annoying more often than not, but we also learned enough about his backstory to come up with some explanations of why. In some ways, he’s the stereotypical con man, which isn’t necessarily all that interesting – smooth lies underneath equally smooth charm. He’s manipulative and smart enough to be good at it, which Walker both expects and doesn’t want to believe.

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‘Walker’ Gets Back In The Saddle with Episode 2

After a pilot that caught my interest in some surprising ways, the second episode of the new CW show ‘Walker’ managed to sustain that interest, mostly by continuing to explore the characters’ psychological reactions to loss as well as give us more insight into their relationships. There was also a case-of-the-week, which gave us some exciting moments, and a little progress on the main mystery of what happened to Walker’s wife, Emily (Gen Padalecki), but what sticks with me most are the emotional beats.

And an odd craving for queso.

There was again a flurry of articles and interviews about the new show, including Keegan Allen (Liam) taking over the CWWalker Instagram account for the day. He clearly had a lot of fun doing that, with many of the cast also getting into the act, and even including some fanart. I’m only including one because I saw @StabGigi say she was thrilled to have her awesome art included. It’s clear the cast and crew are getting along great, and the same sort of cooperative atmosphere that Jared and Jensen established early on for Supernatural are something that Jared has clearly taken to Walker.

Art by @StabGigi

 

Before we get to the emotional moments of the episode, a brief case-of-the-week synopsis: A man is killed by a falling beam in a raging horse barn fire, along with some hapless horses, which Micki (Lindsey Morgan) is assigned to investigate (interrupting her romantic interlude with boyfriend Trey (Jeff Pierre), alas). She pulls her partner in, though we quickly find out from Captain James (Coby Bell) that Walker is technically not a Texas Ranger at the moment, since he needs to be re-certified. Walker (Jared Padalecki) and Micki ace the shooting range part of the partner recertification, but Walker freezes when it’s time for the riding portion, spiraling into memories of Emily gifting him with a custom tooled saddle and saddlebag with their initials carved into the leather. Despite Walker being ‘off the case’, he and Ramirez have already begun to think of each other as partners, so she consults with him on the case anyway. They eventually figure out that the stable owner burned it down to kill his injured racehorse for the insurance money before anyone knew Texas Nightshade was hurt and losing value. The jockey, however, couldn’t go through with it and let the horse run free to save it. Walker is able to find the horse and overcome his hesitation just in time to ride in to save the day, pulling Micki up behind him so the two of them can stop the bad guys from getting away. Captain James counts the heroics as Walker passing his riding test, which I have to agree with. Pretty impressive!

Meanwhile, in the emotional part of the episode, Walker is still having frequent flashbacks to happier times with his wife, remembering when she gifted him with the beautiful saddle that he can no longer bring himself to use. It’s poignant and painful that he carries it around in his pickup truck but can’t bring himself to ride with it. When he goes back to the house that he and Emily shared, he pictures them there as a family when the kids were young, establishing a home with the kids’ handprints in the concrete on their front walk. The handprints are still there today, but much like the saddle, it now brings Walker more pain than joy.

The CW

Once again, I appreciate the way this show explores grief. It is painful, and while we want to hang onto the things that help us remember our loved ones, it also hurts to do so. I get the feeling that Walker’s past year has been spent mostly avoiding those memories and the feelings they bring, so now that he’s back, he’s finding them all fresh and raw and overwhelming. I feel for him, even when he’s screwing up and hurting other people with his not-so-healthy coping mechanisms. He’s suffering, and Jared Padalecki shows us that vividly.

Walker’s ongoing struggle to reconnect with his family continues to be excruciatingly slow and difficult – which also seems realistic. The fact that he’s constantly distracted by his own emotional turmoil and thoughts of the past means that he’s not very good at being present for his children – which is exactly the problem they’ve had with him for the past eleven months. Instead of joining the family for breakfast, he goes to his old home first (finding beer bottles and a window pushed out, evidence of Stella’s propensity to come back and party there in an effort to deal with her own grief) so he arrives late to family breakfast. He hasn’t been there to be part of their established routines – which are so important to children who’ve experienced loss and trauma – so his parents and brother have stepped into all those roles. Liam is the one who knows that Stella has a game that day and the one who takes the kids to school. It’s clear that Walker wants to do those things now that he’s back, but he’s still not paying the kind of attention that those responsibilities require, and the kids are reluctant to trust him and depend on him.

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Jared Padalecki is “Back In The Saddle” With the New Walker

For Supernatural fans, who are still grieving the loss of our beloved show after 15  years on the air, the premiere of the new CW show ‘Walker’ on Thursday brought a lot of complicated feelings. Many of us weren’t ready (and to be honest, would never have been ready) to say goodbye to Sam Winchester, so seeing Jared Padalecki inhabit a brand new character was exciting but also brought a fresh sense of loss, as though the new character made the loss of Sam finally real. On the other hand, it was wonderful to have another television show to anticipate, and for Thursday nights at 8 pm EST to be something special once again instead of a time I tended to wander around the house lamenting that ‘it feels like something’s missing…’). In the midst of continuing controversy about the way Supernatural ended, and a hashtag campaign to tank ‘Walker’ before it even began, the show itself managed to air with considerable fanfare anyway – making it the CW’s most watched Thursday in three years, even topping NBC’s airing in its time slot!

Despite being brand new, Walker didn’t get left out of the Bernie meme going around, which must be some kind of pop culture litmus test, right?

Graphic: quickreaver

The network went all out in its promotion, with billboards and articles in every mainstream publication and Jared making the talk show rounds. That meant a fandom that’s accustomed to constant content and had been going into withdrawal was ecstatic to finally get some new photos of Mr. Padalecki – and oh, what new photos they were!

The Supernatural cast also went all out, with most of Padalecki’s former cast members sending him best wishes for his new show. On premiere day, former onscreen and always offscreen brother Jensen Ackles posted an Instagram message of support, telling Padalecki to “Go get ‘em, cowboy” and Jared and wife/costar Gen gave a shout out in return to Jensen and Danneel Ackles’ Austin-based brewery, Family Business Beer Company, on their CWWalker Instagram takeover. For Supernatural fans making the transition to new shows, the reminder that in real life they’re all going to remain good friends was somehow comforting. Padalecki has also said that he’s set on getting former costar Ackles to guest or direct on Walker as soon as his filming schedule for Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ allows.

I did not watch the original ‘Walker Texas Ranger’, nor am I a big fan of either westerns or cop procedurals, so Walker wasn’t a show that would have been on my must watch list if it wasn’t for Padalecki. That meant I went into it with measured expectations, and still feeling a bit sad about missing the Winchesters. There were mixed reviews from the media who received advance screeners of the pilot, but I like to make up my own mind anyway, so I sat down to watch figuring I’d just see where the show took me. I didn’t expect to feel as much as I did, and for me, that’s a very good thing. I didn’t even fall in love with Supernatural, my favorite show of all time, right away; I had to get to know the characters. They had to pull me in, make me want to know more about them. Fascinate me. And while I’m not pulled in entirely yet with Walker, I am interested. I want to know more.  And that bodes well for a brand new show.

I have to admit, the second that I saw Padalecki back on my tv screen again, I teared up.

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That’s my boy!! (Okay, one of them…)

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Three To Go – All The Supernatural Happenings of the Past Two Weeks!

The past two weeks haven’t been quite as full of constant new Supernatural content as the ones before – and many of us, especially here in the US, have a lot else on our minds — but it has still been a good time to be a Supernatural fan. I’m grateful for all the coverage we’re getting, with newly released photos and videos and articles just about every day, because we know we only have a few more weeks of the show being on the air and that happening. Most of the coverage has been about the show itself, but the Supernatural cast has also been very involved in the American elections. This is a group of people who take seriously the Supernatural mantra of ‘saving people’ and they are all  using their platforms to carry that out however they believe will be the most effective. Article and video links included below so you can check out more coverage details.

At the start of last week, the SPNFamily got some long hoped for and very welcome news — after years and years of pleading, Supernatural now has its very own Impala hashtag emoji! I will admit, I didn’t have on my 2020 bingo card sobbing with pride and joy and anticipation of loss over a Baby emoji, but here we are. I’m beside myself with pride for our little show – it may not seem significant to people outside the fandom, but it’s so significant to the SPNFamily. (It’s not a regular emoji, so it won’t appear forever, but I’m still very happy to have it for the show’s end run at least).

 

As we’re all preparing to grieve the loss of Supernatural, we’re also looking forward to the new projects that the cast and crew will be working on, which helps at least a little. TVLine kicked off last week with some good news about Jensen Ackles’ new project, The Boys.

TVLine reporated that Ackles’ Soldier Boy will play a pivotal role in Season 3.

Showrunner Eric Kripke: With him comes the big season mythology that he threads all the way through. The season is sort of about him.

Me: Yesssssssssssssssss!

They also had some news about the fate of Castiel, which many of us are trying to steel ourselves for right now as the pivotal Episode 18 airs tomorrow.

Castiel’s deal with The Empty has not been forgotten and will play into the show’s final episodes. Uh oh.

Andrew Dabb: It’s something we introduced last year, knowing to a degree where it was going. The story can always take twists and turns. But obviously, The Empty’s been a little bit more of a character this year, played by Rachel Miner, who’s done a great job. It has still got a grudge against Cas, and that will not go away.

To say we’re nervous about tomorrow’s episode is a gigantic understatement. Personally, I’m so anxious at this point, for multiple reasons, I can barely sit still long enough to type this.

https://tvline.com/2020/10/27/chicago-fire-season-9-spoilers-foster-leaving-annie-ilonzeh/

Last Tuesday, Jared started filming his new show, Walker, and the SPNFamily tweeted #GoodLuckJared to him all day to start him off with lots of love.

On Wednesday, EW had an article on Supernatural’s unofficial theme song, Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son. I swear, everything about our show is special – what other show has a theme song like that, 100% embraced by the band itself to the extent that they came to Comic Con a few years ago to kick off the Hall H Supernatural panel??

Supernatural creator Eric Kripke explained how the song came to be used in the show.

Kripke: Those weren’t just classic rock songs, those were the songs from my collection. At the end of season 1, we were cutting the first of the ‘Road So Far’ trailers. We wanted to do a recap to remind everyone what happened all season but we really wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t the same old avalanche of exposition. [Producer] Phil [Sgriccia] and I looked at ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ and set it to this long recap and it just came to life because the lyrics seemed to fit what the brothers were going through. What people don’t remember is that in season 1, that was the second-to-last episode that ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ played. And then we tried to do another ‘road so far’ for the finale set to Triumph’s ‘Fight the Good Fight’ and it was just obvious it just didn’t take the way that ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ took. You could just tell from fan response that people were not digging it.

Luckily, Kripke was really good at going with his instincts, and it’s the Kansas song that was retained over all these years. I still can’t sing along to it at the end of convention karaoke without tearing up. And I am 100% certain it will destroy me in the finale.

https://ew.com/tv/carry-on-my-wayward-son-supernaturals-unofficial-theme-song/

TVLine also ran a story and video about what Jared and Jensen will miss about working together, which I imagine is ALOT.

Jared: Acting opposite Ackles for 15 seasons has given me the confidence that I can push myself. I don’t want to say I baby it with other actors and actresses, but I pull my game back. If you’ve been playing tennis with somebody 15 years or basketball or doing jujitsu or something, you know how hard you can push. Whereas if you just walk in onto a court with somebody you’ve never played before, it’s like, ‘OK, well, I’ve got to feel them out, because I don’t want to just start dunking on the guy, and it’s not a game.’ And so with Jensen, I know I can push as hard as I possibly can — and harder — and that he’ll push back just as hard, and we’ll bring out different aspects of a scene, different facets of what the characters are going through.

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When Jared talked about how he tried to leave “Jared out of it” and let Sam have all the emotions during the last scene, Jensen laughed – clearly neither were able to leave their own emotions out of it at that point.

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Jensen talked about the shorthand that he and Jared have constructed over the years, which I’ve heard him mention many times before, saying that it helped them really flesh out the bond between the brothers.

Jensen: There’s a nuance, I think, that he and I are able to tap into, not only with our characters, but with the relationship that these characters have with each other in every scene. A lot of times, those nuances are not written on the page, and that is, I think, something that we pride ourselves in being able to bring to the character, to the story and to the show. And that’s something that he and I don’t really even need to talk about. It’s stuff that presents itself to us, almost in the middle of a scene. We’re so comfortable and available to each other for letting those kinds of moments happen that they happen all the time. I’m going to miss having that confidence with somebody that I can just allow those moments to happen and you can seize them.

I’m going to miss those moments too, Mr. Ackles. More than I can even put into words.

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The Time In Between – Weekly Wrap Up of Last Week’s Supernatural Happenings

This is such an unusual time to be in the Supernatural fandom. I feel like we’re suspended in this bubble that’s about to break, acutely aware that the show is returning in less than two weeks but also that it’s already filmed its last scenes and wrapped for good. I’m both full of anticipation to see those last seven episodes, and dreading seeing those last seven episodes – because they will be the last.

One thing I’m grateful for is that this interim time has not been quiet in terms of my favorite show. As the crew and production office continue the rather depressing work of taking apart the offices and sound stages, some of them posted along the way, including this lovely post by one of the women in the costuming department as she prepares to start work on a new show. For most of them, as for us, I don’t think there will ever be a show quite like this one.

There was also a brief video of workers dismantling the Men of Letters bunker, which I could only watch once and then had to put aside. I was only there once in person, but that set was so real and so important to so many of us – because it was so important to the fictional characters we loved – that it literally hurt to see it being destroyed. Knowing it was home to them made it, in a weird way, feel like home to us too.

Shortly after, my friend Alana King posted a Tik Tok saying her own goodbye to the bunker and Sam, Dean and Cas, and the combination singlehandedly resulted in me going through half a pack of tissues in one morning.

Alana said she’s sorry, but she’s not. (And ultimately the video was validating and cathartic for me too). I’m sorry I told you to go to your room, Alana. (Kinda)

We’ve also been blessed by lots of content from the cast, which lets us know how they’re doing (Yes, I worry about these things). Last week we got video interviews with both Jared and Jensen, and although Jensen’s was not new, it was still a helluva lot of fun.

Richard Speight, Jr. and Rob Benedict have had a podcast for some time, as most of you know, but they kicked off their new name and format (a return to Kings of Con) with special guest and good friend Jensen Ackles on Tuesday.  As is the tradition on the podcast, everyone fixed themselves a drink before they started, and that made for a fun and laid back video of their chat. (Jensen tweeted the day after the video “Not gonna lie….I was pretty drunk”, shocking exactly no one). He also dressed like a train engineer and somehow made that ridiculously attractive anyway.

Richard: We’re going right down the shitter from here. There’s nobody we know that’s gonna show up with a hat-shirt-kerchief combo that matches their throw blanket and their background….

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As the video begins, Ackles realizes his spotless Vancouver apartment has the bedroom door open.

Jensen: Let me close my bedroom door, nobody wants to see that!

Everyone watching: Umm…

Jensen insisted he’d gained the Quarantine Fifteen but got the word at the end of May that they’d be back to shooting in August, so had two months to ‘clean it up’ and work out. Whatever he did, looks like it worked out fine.

Jensen and Rob apparently had some epic zoom calls during their quarantines in Vancouver, hanging out for 5 or 6 hours with their computers propped up while they talked and made dinner, and there was some talk of them doing music together, which yes please.

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Jensen also talked about how odd it will be to film with the Covid regulations (the podcast was filmed before he went back to the set), with everyone in a color coded group and not allowed to “cross pollinate”.  In his chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jensen talks about the unique closeness of Supernatural’s cast and crew, and he said that’s what would make it difficult.

Jensen: This is a crew that’s so intertwined. Most shows, the grips show up, they do their work, and camera, sound, then actors and hair, makeup. But the camaraderie that has grown on this particular set is unlike most, so it’s gonna be really tough. These are friends that we talk to on and off set quite often. People I’ve spent my birthdays with, celebrated life achievements with. To now have this barrier between is us gonna be weird and sad.

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They all agreed that not being able to shake hands with someone you meet will be weird if that custom doesn’t ever come back, saying that they were taught that by their fathers, that it’s a cultural thing.

Jensen: That physical connection is so ingrained in me, I can’t imagine meeting someone and not shaking their hand. With people you know, I’m hoping that hugging will still be, because we all hug each other, whether it’s the bro hug or the full bring it in.

Honestly, I love that about this cast. They’re all demonstrably affectionate with each other, and the feeling is clearly genuine.

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